I QUOTE: Powell & Gay

World Athletics Final press conference quotes
Friday 8 September 2006

Stuttgart, Germany - The IAAF Press Conference on the eve of the 4th World Athletics Final was held today at the Gottleib Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart.

In attendance were IAAF President Lamine Diack; IAAF General Secretary Pierre Weiss; Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart; Frank Hensel, DLV General Secretary; and Adreas Kroll, Managing Director of in.Stuttgart.

Tia Hellebaut at the World Athletics Final kick-off press conference in Stuttgart
(Getty Images)

The athletes in attendance were Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Tia Hellebaut and Steffi Nerius. Here’s some of what the athletes had to say:

Asafa Powell (JAM), the co-World record holder in the 100 metres (three times at 9.77, twice this season), undefeated in 15 races:

On this weekend’s chief rival, Tyson Gay:

Asafa Powell at the World Athletics Final kick-off press conference in Stuttgart
(Getty Images)

“He’s someone that I should be really, really watching. When I watch the races that we have run together, he’s finishing really strong. And I’m a person that has a bad habit of easing up at the finish line. And if I get really careless he’ll get by and get me.”

What do you need to do to run faster?

“If you watched my race in Brussels (where he was caught off guard by a fast starter’s gun), they really pushed me to run to the line there. Normally I get out and by 60 meters I’m already ahead of the pack. Then I’m just relaxing and running through. So if Tyson gets his good start and is up there, he can really push me a lot more.”

Steffi Nerius at the World Athletics Final kick-off press conference in Stuttgart
(Getty Images)

Even with that terrible start in Brussels, you fought back to win and still ran under 10 seconds. That must have been a great confidence booster.

“That gave me a very big boost to know that I can lose a couple of metres and still run back and go by them and still go under 10 seconds. Maybe I just really need to run like that all the time. (Laughs)”

What’s most important, running fast or collecting that major title?

“I want to be one of the greatest athletes in the world. And if you look back at all the great athletes, like Maurice Greene, who has the world records, the world championships, the Olympic title, I guess I have to have something like that to be one of the greatest athletes in the world.”

On how he’s managed to run consistently fast all-season long, and remain undefeated:

“We, top athletes, we only compete once a week. We train a lot of the time. It’s just a lot of hard work. Years back I couldn’t really do this because I wasn’t taking training seriously. I was playing around in practice so by the time the season was almost done, I was way down, way behind. But this season I put in a lot of hard work. I set a big goal for myself and that’s where I’m going."

Tyson Gay(USA), defending World Athletics Final champion in the 200, personal best of 9.84 and 19.70 in the 100/200 this season:

What’s been the key to your success this year?

“The key has been running healthy. I haven’t been injured, and I’ve been training consistently. And I think that’s why I’ve been able to run some great times.”

Does your strength come from your solid 200m background?

I’ve run 200s since I ran in Kingston, Jamaica (6 May), and ever since them it’s just been making my 100s stronger. I believe that’s the key to having run well up until the end of the year, having that 200m strength.”

What you say is your greatest weakness? What do you need to work on to perhaps match Asafa Powell?

“I think I need to work on my start. In the 200 I think it’s pretty good, but in the 100 I believe that I have to work on my start a lot. I seem to have a 200m start in the 100. I haven’t had a lot of time this year to specifically focus on just the first 20 metres of my race, which is just staying down and staying technically sound. I think that next year I believe that my start will be better, I’ll focus more on that. And I think that my 100 start will give me a better 200 metre start for next year.”

You’ve described Asafa Powell as being very technically sound, if not nearly perfect. Do you believe he’s currently beatable? If so, do you currently have the ingredients for that?

“I believe that any athlete is currently beatable. But I think to beat Asafa Powell I have to have my perfect race. I believe that this weekend I have to have more confidence in my start and I have to focus more on the beginning of my race to be with Asafa Powell at 60 metres. I think that will be a more exciting race, instead of me coming on strong at the end and Asafa starting off great and finishing strong.”

What’s most important, running fast or collecting that major title?

“The greatest athletes in the world have pretty much achieved both."

"I came up short last year in getting a medal in the World Championships and that pretty much made me hungrier to run faster and train harder.”

Tia Hellebaut (BEL), the European Champion in the High Jump:

What was it like competing at home in Brussels soon after winning the European title?

“It was a very special feeling to compete before a home crowd, with lots of people coming to see me and Kim Gevaert. It was a very special feeling with everybody cheering for me. It felt really, really nice."

Improving this year from a 1.95 best all the way to 2.03. Have you realized what sort of breakthrough you’ve made this season.

“I did realize what I’ve done this season. I decided this summer to focus on the High Jump. Everything that I’ve been doing this summer has been going really well. My technique is very consistent and that’s why I’m jumping very consistently now."

Despite success in the Heptathlon (national record 6201 this year), do you have any regrets about not deciding to focus solely on high jump earlier?

“I don’t think like that. After Helsinki [where she finished 6th in the High Jump] I decided to focus on the High Jump. I still had one goal, which was the national record in the Heptathlon. Many people asked me two or three years ago why I don’t just focus on the High Jump. I think I wasn’t ready for it mentally. I really wanted to do the different events. But after Helsinki I think I was ready for it. I just wanted the national record in the Heptathlon and then start a new story.”

Are you definitely finished with the Heptathlon?

“I will still do the Pentathlon this winter indoors. I like the different events and I think it’s still good preparation for me.”

What’s most important, record or collecting that major title?

“I always try to push myself further and I always try to be at my best for the championships, and at the championships I always try to beat my personal best. I focus on a PB and if I get a title that’s even better.”

Steffi Nerius (GER), European champion in the Javelin Throw:

Finished second in the World Athletics Final in 2003 and 2005, and third in 2004. Can she win this time at home in Germay?

“Yes, I was second a couple of times, and really can do better. I am in good shape, I’m hot right now, and have come to win before a home crowd.”

She has a 66.52 PB from 2005. This year, her best throws from her 10 competitions average 64.60. This year only six women have throw farther once. Can she approach her 66.52 personal best from last year?

“In Berlin last week, I had a 67 metre trial [prior to the competition], so I know that I can throw farther.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF